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Where are the star players?

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Ben James Ben James | 07:09 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010

Zidane: unimpressed with the class of 2010? - AP Photo/Martin MeissnerThe group stages of the 2010 World Cup finish today - but still there's no one player who has lit up the tournament.

In the past, the likes of Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Davor Suker, Hristo Stoichkov have emerged during a World Cup as a consistently good performer, game after game.

But in this World Cup no-one has shot out from the endless lists published in the build-up of those who were expected to shine.

Some blogs are trying to find candidates: this one comes up with an entire team's worth of players who have maybe had one good game each.

I would add Mesut Ozil and Keisuke Honda to the list of possibles after their performances over the last couple of days.

But still none of them tower over the others.

Based on utter speculation and a chat with the editor last night while standing outside a London pub - in best World Cup tradition - how about these for a few theories to start with ...

1. Underdogs. "Big" team complacency has seen "small" team underdogs triumph (Switzerland, Slovakia etc) and those performances have been gritty ones by the entire team, rather than inspired by one player alone. This blogger thinks Italy lost because they lacked a true star.

2. Fatigue. The world's very best players - Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo, Drogba - have had a long long season in the Champions League, domestic leagues and cups and they're not able to perform at their peak now.

3. The ball. Are players only now getting used to it? Spectacular goals by Endo, Honda, Di Natale and Holman in the last couple of days would suggest so. Surely only when the players know the ball they'll be able to truly impress.

Who do you think is the star player of the tournament? If you can't find one yet, why not?

Or do we put too much emphasis on finding stars in what - as Slovakia demostrated - is very much a team game?

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